Pakistan Security Brief
U.S. allegedly listening to 2011 phone call between army and ISI chiefs following bin Laden raid; Government negotiating committee reportedly instructed to not make major concessions, but try to keep talks with TTP alive; JUI-S chief says only TTP demand is for Pakistan to stop security cooperation with U.S.; Trade deal with India postponed due to military’s lack of approval; EU supports Pakistan’s attempt to improve trade relations with India and talks with TTP; Bahrain reportedly seeking Pakistani mediation in dispute with Iran; Pakistan says it will stay neutral in disputes between Muslim countries.
Rumored ISI Ties to Osama bin Laden
According to a Friday report in The News, U.S. intelligence agencies were listening-in on a phone call between then-army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and then-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha after the May 2, 2011 raid which killed Osama bin Laden. The report purports that in the conversation, both Pasha and Kayani expressed surprise that bin Laden had been hiding in Abbottabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which allegedly led the United States to believe that Pakistan’s military and intelligence leadership was not aware of bin Laden’s presence.
Talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
According to a Friday report in The News, the government-appointed negotiating committee for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) talks has been instructed to not make any major concessions to the TTP, but to try to prevent the talks from falling apart. The News quotes a senior government official who said that a consensus existed to carry out a military operation against the TTP in the case that talks broke down, but that the TTP’s unconditional ceasefire was an unprecedented move that convinced the government to take the peace talks more seriously.
On Thursday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Samiul Haq said that the only demand the TTP is making in its negotiations with the government is that the government stops cooperating with the U.S. in the war on terror. He also urged the government to stop interfering in the affairs of religious seminaries, warning that doing so could trigger a war against the state.
On Friday, a planned cabinet meeting to approve a trade deal with India was postponed, allegedly due to the military leadership’s failure to give its approval to the agreement. The military leadership has not expressed any opinion on the deal, but the government will not move forward without the military’s approval, the report claims.
On Thursday, the Ambassador from the European Union (EU) to Pakistan praised Pakistan’s attempts to normalize trade relations with India, including possibly granting Most Favored Nation (MFN) status. He also said that the EU supports the government’s peace talks with the TTP.
On Thursday, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister said that he expects Pakistan to have a moderating influence on other Muslim countries in the Middle East. The comment was in reference to Bahrain’s concern about Iran’s actions in the region, alleged Bahraini desires to mend fences with Iran and rumors that Bahrain is seeking Pakistani mediation to help achieve that goal.